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The Penny Arcade

 The Coin Operated Machine Information Site 


                                                             Strange & Unusual page 3

                                                                                     "Play Ball"

                                        Machines that try to emulate a sport

  Lots of slot machine have used sport as a theme but surprisingly few have attempted to actually play a sport. Some sports are well  represented others never seem to have been attempted. 


    Being a bat and ball game with relatively fixed fielding positions coupled with its popularity baseball was perhaps one of the easier games to simulate. Even some one arm bandits managed to show  a little play in their action. But it was the pinball makers who really got to grips with a good baseball game. Williams hit on a good basic game and went on to make several versions through the 1960's. Midway too made a first class game. These machines took quite a pounding as the speed of the pitch needed to be fast and hard to try and catch out the layer. In the 1970's I had a Williams machine in my care in a London arcade, mechanically it was made to last wear to the playfield, players and targets was the big problem. Very few seem to have survived perhaps because they were simply worn out by the end of their life.





     RockOla "1937 World series"                    Amusement Machine Corp of America  "All American Baseball" 1930



 This machine, in its original form, is generally recognised as the first ever "pitch and bat" baseball game. It came out in 1929 under the name "All American Baseball" and was made by the Amusement machine Corp of America, a company created by the machine's inventor George Miner. The machine has an interesting history involving a couple of greats in the coin op world. After only a couple of years Miner sold the rights to the game to Harry Williams who would eventually found the Williams Co famous for its pintables. Miner and Williams went to work for the  Bally Co and planned to reintroduce the game there but Miner was killed in a plane crash, the plan was dropped and  Williams went to work for David RockOla at the  RockOla Co, taking the patents for the baseball game with him.This resulted in "1937 World Series" a very similar but advanced version of the original game. The game was a mild success but not a big hit



  Williams "Official Baseball"a two player game that tried hard to create a good game and succeeded unlike the          Rock-Ola "play Ball" which couldn't help but be a glorified pinball.



   These two (by Mills and Atlas) were from an earlier less tech advanced age and could do little more than offer a game on a baseball theme.

 In the UK cricket was the natural option over baseball but proved to be hard to manage and impossible to produce an interesting game 



 Not a game that lends itself to coin op simulation but this certainly didn't stop the machine makers on both sides of the Atlantic making the attempt.


                 This Meadowlark "play golf " was good effort despite looking like the golfer is inside a fish tank



  This English machine was a very early attempt to capture the joys of golf and was popular in its day and much sort after by collectors today.


  Using their experience from the baseball games Williams produced this interesting but not wildly successful golf game


                                   Chicrgo Coin's "Par Golf" lent even harder on the earlier baseball machines

                      This Chester Pollard "Play Golf" needs some work                  A nice looking game but the only similarity it has with  

                       in its day did a good job                                                  golf is that both are impossible to win at


                                                     Basket Ball & American Football 

      American football and rugby being games that involve carrying the ball did not lend themselves to coin op machines and are few and far between and for the most part rely on the kicking and catching side of the game.



        Basketball on the other hand did a little better,after following the American football theme in its early days the                                                                         electrical slot age gave it new life





 Sega found a way to throw the ball from position to position with this machine which was a big success for them and                                                                                   can still be found in use 


  Surprisingly boxing was an early entry in to the field and there have been American,British and                                           Japanese  boxing machines although none were more than a one play wonder





                                                                             Ten Pin Bowling

   Coin operated bowling machines come,of course, in many sizes,even in arcades,but,for me at least, the enclosed mini figure  style bowling machine is the true arcade version, often beautifully made they are a joy to play



              "Ten Strike" was originally made by H.C.Evens Co and remained in constant production from 1939 till 1953 (excluding the war years) and reappeared again in 1957 as a two player game as "Ten Strike & "Ten Pins" after Williams bought the rights from Evans.


   The later Williams "Ten Strike" and Sega "Pro bowler" may have played a better game but lack the class of the Evens 



                                              This version is an oddity as it carries the "RockOla makers name



                        Hockey, usually ice hockey machine were popular from the start,often quite simple machines but                                        addictive none the less and extreamly popular which led to more interesting and unusual versions



                             This basic style although still to be found today soon led to this more advanced version


                   this Jentzsch & Meerz machine took things a little further by adding more hockey players




   The most exotic hockey machine must surely be this Chicago Coin "Goalee" complete with overhead mirror view

                                                                                Horse Racing

    Horse racing was a natural for the coin-operated  world because of the gambling element and machine makers were quick to see its potential,even today its a popular theme with some makers still using the same name on their modern machines as they did 50 years ago. Makers had to be very inventive in the early days before the use of multi electrical components was possible. This led to some of the most ingenious mechanical coin op machines ever made.


  This English R&W machine is as basic as it gets   and this American machine  complete with Gum dispenser was an                                                             early attempt at a gambling horse racing game


     header photo Buckley "track Odds" has a horse race theam  rather than race game


      But one company,Pace, rewrote the book on horse racing machines when they released "Paces Races" this super unusual machine used electricity to power the lights and just one electric motor to run a bellows which in turn produced compressed air which powered every mechanical aspect of the machine,the race,the odds and even the payout. It was a true masterpiece of engineering. Bakers produced an almost identical machine and are thought to have been involved with the machine's development right from the start along with Evens Co and, indeed Evens produced the later electrified version and Baker took over Pace in the end. Bally also produced a version of their own but not to the standard of the Pace machine,the consoles alone are a work of art.



                                                                                    Paces Races 1935



                                                          the view inside this amazing machine


                                    Bakers Racers                                                                                Bally "Rays Track"


 unusual mini sized "Bakers Pacers short track"                                  A very  fine Paces races cabinet


                                                        the air powered odds selector on the Pace machine


                                                                                 Paces Races In Action




                     These two cyclists just race round and round their velodrome ,just like the real thing